What I have learned a couple weeks into my Karel Fellowship so far is: if you aren’t fighting multinational companies that sell deadly products, you’re doing it wrong.
Big Tobacco likes to play dirty and trick people around the world with false advertisements, lawsuits and good ol’ cancer sticks. If we want to have a tobacco-free generation, we have to fight Big Tobacco.
Honestly, when I heard that I would be interning at the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids [CTFK], I assumed I would be working at the truth campaign with the TV ads and the big orange truck that rolls around to my own University of Florida [UF] every so often. I mean, what do anti-tobacco non-profits do? They try to prevent kids from smoking and get people to quit smoking, right?
But anti-smoking ad campaigns are only half the battle. We also have to get our elected officials to pass strong anti-smoking laws, like tobacco taxes and smoke-free laws.
Contrary to what “doctors” told Americans back in the early 20th century, nicotine is highly addictive and tobacco products create a whole lot of damage to the body. Because of this, it is extremely hard to quit. Tobacco companies know this. Most smokers know this too! So CTFK asks: what if we could stop people from smoking before they even started?
This is what I am learning about at CTFK. As smokers start quitting or dying from cancer and other diseases, Big Tobacco has to find a way to increase tobacco sales, even if it means targeting children and teens.